Addressing a media briefing at the Central Environmental Authority yesterday (02), Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera has said that there is no truth in reports that the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) has approved the handing over of 600 acres of the Muthurajawela wetland to a private company to build a hotel.
Although a request made by the Forest Department to conduct an environmental study has been approved, the Minister said regardless of the outcome of the study, the final decision in this regard will be taken after consulting the public.
Measuring the extent of the land belonging to the Muthurajawela Wetland, which is one of the most ecologically important and sensitive ecological zones, has been completed to gazette it as a sanctuary and it even includes the estuary where the Muthurajawela wetland ends, the Minister said.
The Minister said that after surveying and gazetting the lands belonging to the Muthurajawela Wetlands Zone, if any person or group claim to own any lands belonging to the gazetted area, steps will be taken to remove them from the land.
It is important to name the Muthurajawela Wetland as a Sanctuary by allocating its area, the Minister said adding that no one will be allowed to destroy this valuable wetland and the legal measures are being taken step by step.
The Minister said that conducting an environmental study is not a transfer and that any construction should be done not only through the environmental study report but also by consulting the public on it.
Therefore, the report of a move to hand over 600 acres to a hotel in the Muthurajawela Wet Sanctuary is baseless, the Minister said.
Secretary to the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, and Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority S. Samarasinghe were also present.